Dan Gershenson

I've always felt strongly that thoughts and ideas are the great equalizer of brands. No longer do we live in an era where only the largest of companies dictate their degree of influence based on how much money they spend to get in front of more eyeballs with one more 1-way message that's all about them.

The greatest influence can now be in the hands of the most helpful, transparent and personal brands of the world. Are you ready to be one of them? Caliber's Revolution of Influence blog aims to equip you with the strategies, content know-how, tools and trends to find the path that catapults you to newfound success.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_0f69cd2.jpgToday’s guest post is brought to us by Jeff Segal, Content Manager of Kauzu, a social venture that’s changing the way jobseekers and employers connect. An experienced marketing professional and disciplined writer with creative flair, Jeff also consults for businesses under the moniker of “Message Therapist.”

Something occurred to me recently when I heard Jack White’s cover of “I’m Shakin’” on WXRT: Jack White is the Quentin Tarantino of rock.

They’re both obsessive fans who push well-worn genres beyond their traditional boundaries—low-budget crime, martial arts and western flicks for Tarantino; blues, rockabilly and R&B for White. They’re both unapologetically indulgent—Tarantino’s movies are rarely short of three hours, and White’s guitar solos can singe the hair from your ears—but find forgiveness with fans and critics alike. Both Tarantino’s movies and White’s music can feel like parody and homage at the same time.
If you want to look old as a marketer, use tired old marketing tactics that, technically, might “work” but fail over 90% of the time.

Traditional direct mail, for example, offers a typical 2% response rate. So going in, you know that there’s an excellent chance that almost every little postcard you send out in carpet-bombing, non-personalized fashion is going to be filed in a cylinder under a desk or be used as birdcage lining. This is not the same as direct mail that utilizes Personalized URLs (PURLs) – those can be great – but instead a piece of paper that provides no further attempt to get to know the prospect or ever takes the prospect down a more personalized funnel.
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“I just don’t get this whole blogging thing.”

“We’ve gotten by just fine on word of mouth.”

“I just see Facebook as being for kids, not for business.”

“The eNewsletters I get are so boring so I don’t know if it’s for us.”
I was having an interesting discussion recently on LinkedIn about whether or not you accept people who invite you to connect with no personal message other than “I would like to add you to my network on LinkedIn.”

Apparently in the eyes of some, ignoring this message is egotistical. That we’re passing up potential opportunities for business. That we’re navel-gazing and only care about ourselves.

How dare we get so high and mighty to ignore the invitation from a faceless person who has no ability to write one original sentence other than the template given.
Tagged in: linked in
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to partake in the wonderful burgers of Kuma’s Too, a sequel to the famous Kuma’s Corner. Don’t worry, this isn’t really a restaurant review but a point about brand identity and targeting.

When you enter Kuma’s (either one), your ears are blasted by the sounds of heavy metal music at an insanely loud volume. And yet, there’s a line spilling out the door. In frigid Chicago temperatures.
When I met Jackie Camacho-Ruiz of JJR Marketing several months ago, I was enthralled by our conversation. It began the way many networking meetings do, with us sharing our experiences, challenges and strengths. But then Jackie started telling me about how writing a book changed her life in ways she couldn’t even have imagined at the time. It’s earned her speaking opportunities, media invitations and an extra level of credibility as an author of a published work.

It was one of those hours that goes by all too fast. But after speaking with her, I immediately began planning an event that showcases this amazing woman’s thoughts on how to be recognized by your circle of influence.

Branding Like A 2-Year-Old

Posted by on in Strategizing
“I help companies tell more exciting stories about themselves and the people they help.”

That is about as close to the explanation of what I do, created for a 2-year-old, that I can make.

I was thinking about this while looking at a picture of my nephew, who is literally a 2-year-old. He’s a genius in my book. But of course, even he needs some simple explanations some times about how things work in this new world he’s experiencing.

As a parent, a grandfather/grandmother, Uncle, Aunt, friend, etc., surely you’ve tried to explain something complex to a very small child. And in that instance, you know that making things so simple compared to how you’re used to describing them is pretty darn hard, isn’t it?

How many Pure Work Hours do you really have?

Posted by on in Creativity
Being a big fan of the products and philosophies of Jason Fried of 37 Signals, I harken back to this TED talk he gave a while ago about truly productive work. The question is simple: How many of you have a moment in your day where absolutely nothing interrupts your workflow? Pure focus. The zone. Feelin’ the flow. You know the exalted state I’m talking about.


There will be enough posts today about the winners and losers of the Super Bowl adfest. I won’t bother you with one more but instead give you something to think about in terms of the true winners and losers beyond the actual ads themselves.

Winner: Television Media and the Advertising Industry

“We don’t want to be advertised to.” I hear that a lot throughout the year and there’s certainly some truth to that. But that has nothing to do with the fact that we have social media now. People have never wanted to be advertised to. That was true when Caveman A was trying to sell a rock to Caveman B. It has always, always been about treating our audience with respect for what they need to help in their everyday lives and conveying that in a sophisticated way that compels, entertains and delights. Rather than, say, barge into their faces and say, “You’ve got to have this now, Now, NOW!”

"10 Things To Grow Your Business in 2013" Event

Posted by on in Events
We could all use a little inspiration to kick off the year and it’s a sure bet that you wouldn’t mind at least one great idea to grow your business, right?

Well, you might find as many as 10 of them when you attend an awesome event this Thursday the 24th, from 7:30am – 10:30am at the Mid-America Club (200 E. Randolph, 80th FL).

After all, it is called “10 Things You Need To Know To Grow Your Business in 2013.”

Social Media Gurus with No Social Skills

Posted by on in Social Media
Here’s an ironic moment – we’re sitting across from a person at dinner who is chatting non-stop and loudly about trends in social media. She’s talking about the changes in Facebook search, the Recommendation she just made for someone on LinkedIn, Google’s next big move, etc.
Lately, I’ve been reading from people who are ripping heavily on LinkedIn for the new Endorsements feature, which enables one to endorse a colleague for certain characteristics they’ve listed. You can list in the neighborhood of 50 or so traits that someone can endorse you for.

The argument is that:

1) Endorsements take away from someone supplying Recommendations

2) They’re not of real value
It took me a few days later than usual to find my New Year’s Resolution. It’s not to lose a few more pounds (although that’s fine with me) or the other usual stuff.

This year, I’m going to protect my professional time like nobody’s business.

I’m going to make more meetings count.

I’m not going to attend cocktail hours to merely exchange business cards, but to connect.

I’m going to value the increased speed in helping someone clarify a decision, whether that is a yes or a no.

In short, everything I do has to go somewhere beyond that original meeting.

Here’s why I was inspired. I was recently in a conference call where it took the better part of an hour for me to discover that there was not a fit. Actually, scratch that. I knew it was going nowhere within 15 minutes. I was being nice for the rest of the time.
A conversation with Michael Houlihan, founder of the Barefoot Wine brand

Michael Houlihan may represent one of the ultimate “pulled up by the bootstraps” stories of entrepreneurialism.

From humble beginnings in the laundry room of a rented farmhouse in the Sonoma County wine country, Houlihan, along with partner Bonnie Harvey, co-founded the Barefoot Winebrand in 1985.
A conversation with Michael Houlihan, founder of the Barefoot Wine brand
Michael Houlihan may represent one of the ultimate “pulled up by the bootstraps” stories of entrepreneurialism.

From humble beginnings in the laundry room of a rented farmhouse in the Sonoma County wine country, Houlihan, along with partner Bonnie Harvey, co-founded the Barefoot Wine brand in 1985.

Without much capital, industry knowledge or advertising budget, he built one of the most successful wine brands in the country – selling Barefoot to E&J Gallo 20 years later. He retells the story in a new book titled: The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built a Bestselling Wine.”
You can look at the last cover of a news magazine like Newsweek and wax nostalgic about the good old days if you like. I prefer to think of the positive of what a final cover represents in choosing to use but only a simple hashtag of #lastprintissue.

Newsweek’s last issue in print

It’s not a period of finality on a brand. It’s an acknowledgement that the brand will be conversed about in other ways. Digital ways. And that it can continue to have relevance – maybe even more than it has recently. It will be read on a laptop, on a tablet, on a smartphone. It will be shared faster rather than lie exclusively on the coffee table of a physician’s office.
b2ap3_thumbnail_v2-121219757.jpgYou’ve heard the story before. A young gun 20-something in Sales living the bachelor’s life at a fast pace. He’s making it happen with all the material possessions that point to success – a nice paycheck, condo, a Porsche in the garage and late nights at all the hot spots in town.

Then Steve Fretzin climbed into a small plane and his outlook on life as an entrepreneur changed forever.

“I was taking a little mini-vacation with some friends and flew up to Eagle River, Wisconsin for the day to play around. One of my friends was the pilot. On our return flight, we lost our engine thousands of feet up.”

The plane crashed into a house in Crystal Lake. While feeling lucky to have survived the experience, Fretzin was badly hurt and his recovery over the next several months was anything but pleasant.

The Chicago Chatter Hotlist: 12/19

Posted by on in Social Media
The 10 Big Topics we’re chatting about most at this very moment in Chicago via social media:

1. 2 Inmates Escape From High Rise Jail

2. Obama taps Biden to head task force on gun violence

3. Newtown

4. Robert Bork dies

Five Reasons You Should Help A Reporter Out

Posted by on in Guest Posts
This guest post is written by Bridgette Outten, a journalist and publicity strategist with The Write Vision Group, Inc. As a print newspaper reporter, the number one question she was always asked was, “How do I get in the news?” Recognizing the need for training, The Write Vision Group, Inc. fills the gap between organizations that have good stories and news media that want to tell good stories. 

We don't have to be the first to report

Posted by on in Social Media
There’s an epidemic among social media bloggers, tweeters, YouTube uploaders and the like to be the first to report something across the social media sphere the moment it happens.

But…do we always really need to?

If broadcast news has taught us anything, it’s that reporters get it wrong. And in a world that’s become increasingly more real-time, their reports in error get pumped through every major social media channel in an instant. When a terrible event happens in which a shooter massacres elementary school children in Connecticut, you want to get it right. You don’t want to be wrong on that. But lo and behold, many broadcast news journalists were – they identified the wrong person as the shooter at first.

It's not hard to connect with us.

Are we a fit for you and you for us? We certainly could be. But let’s start simple. Take a look at your calendar and see when you have no more than 45 minutes to talk further about your goals while receiving greater insight on next steps.

Let's Schedule a Time

  • "Dan did a great job crafting our website's language as well as developing our brochure. His work was top notch and very impactful. We really appreciate the way he worked his "magic." Dan has our strongest recommendation."

    Michael Casaburi, CEO at Revulus Growth Partners
  • "Dan is not only a person with creative ideas, he is a professional with high intelligence and integrity. He has tremendous energy and technical acumen. Dan is is focused and loves what he does...creating brands and building relationships. He is always willing to offer a helping hand and brings a strong dynamic to any team he is on. I highly recommend Dan to any company that is seeking exposure, growth, financial results and brand development."

    Chadia Meroueh, V.P., Auto Tech and Body
  • "I hired Dan to freshen up the writing on my website, and am delighted with the results. Dan GOT what my consulting business is about in a way that I hadn't experienced from anyone outside my field! More importantly, he was able to take that understanding and write clear and compelling language about my services – AND suggest format changes to the site to make it more effective. I highly recommend him."

    Dina Petrakis, Renovation Coach, Littlerock Construction, Inc.

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